How to Make Rainbow Shots - A Step-by-Step Guide

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 3, 2023

Seeing a bartender pouring Rainbow Shots is fascinating to watch. And if you know how, you can easily make it at home. All you need is a little practice and this guide on how to make them perfect.
Rainbow shots in 5 glasses on white table

Pouring Rainbow shots is one of the fanciest bartending tricks. If you can fill several shot glasses with different colored liquids out of one single shaker, people won't believe their eyes.

And yes, at first, it seems unbelievable to use just one cocktail shaker and fill up multiple shot glasses of various colors. But it is possible and easily explained with science; no witchcraft or magic needed!

To learn how this works, all you need is a basic understanding of physics and how to make use of it.

How to Make Rainbow Shots

Time needed: 5 minutes.

So here we are. We have all ingredients and tools and are ready to make Rainbow shots. -Below this step-by-step explanation is also a short video to help clarify the procedure. However, it makes sense that you read the instructions first.
Please also remember that, unlike in the clip, you do the layering in a metal shaker, not in glass. That way, nobody can see that the ingredients inside are layered already.

  1. Bottom layer of Grenadine

    Like with a Tequila Sunrise, we add a layer of Grenadine first. For this, measure about 0.5 oz of Grenadine and pour it into your cocktail shaker.
    After that, add crushed ice to the glass until it's filled by 3/4. The density of Grenadine is D = 1.18 g mL-1. [1]

  2. Adding Pineapple juice

    For the next layer, we need pineapple juice. Fresh or bottled, both are fine since you're probably not drinking the shots. Measure 6 oz carefully before pouring it gently via your bar spoon into the glass over the ice.
    We don't want the layers to blend at this stage, so you need to be careful. That should work quite well, as the density of pineapple juice is significantly lower at D = 1.01 g mL-1.

  3. Adding Vodka

    Measure 1 oz of Vodka and pour it into the glass. Use your spoon, just like you did with the pineapple juice, to layer the Vodka on top.
    To some extent, it will mix with pineapple juice, but that's fine. The lower density of D = 0.9 g mL-1 ensures it's not fully blending.

  4. Top layer of Blue Curacao

    That is one of the trickiest parts of the whole process. You have to float Blue Curacao on top of the other liquids. But as it is heavier/denser than the ones below, it will start to mix with the other liquids as soon as you pour it in. 

    As a guide, Blue Curacaos' density is at D = 1.11 g mL-1. Therefore, once you've filled Blue Curacao into the shaker, you should immediately take your strainer and pour the Rainbow Shots. 

    A spoon will help float the 0.75 oz Blue Curacao on top. Slowly add Blue Curacao to the spoon tip and let it drip in. The front of the spoon should touch the inside of the glass while doing this. 

    Important note: Remember the spot where it does because you will need to know for the next step.

    Some bartenders add in the blue liqueur while they're just about to pour the first shot. That's an easy and lazy alternative, which, on the downside, partly ruins the magic of this trick.

  5. Pouring the Shots

    Make sure the shot glasses are perfectly aligned before you start pouring. And once you have added Blue Curacao to your shaker, remove the spoon and grab your strainer. Then start filling up the glasses straight away.

    Now you need to know where the spoon and shaker touched in the step prior to this. Because ideally, you pour the liquid from the side where you floated Blue Curacao. That way, the blending of layers will work best.

    Try to pour even-sized amounts into the glasses. If your pouring speed is consistent, you can produce equally sized shots by counting to four.

    Naturally, your first try won't be perfect. The layering can be wrong, or the timing when pouring the shots could be off.

    But after trying it a few more times, you eventually will get a better feeling and timing; -I promise. And once you know how it works, you can pull this off at any party. Cheers!

What Are Rainbow Shots?

Rainbow Shots are a set of shots served in rainbow colors. It's a popular bartending trick that makes use of different densities in liquids. Hence, each shot has a different color, ABV, and taste.

Rainbow shots are actually not meant for drinking. They are not dangerous or harmful, but they won't taste that good.

How do Rainbow Shots work?

Even though pouring these shots in one go is doable, it still is tricky. So don't be discouraged if it does not work out the first time. To perfectly nail this party trick, you'll need some practice. 

Yet, once you manage to pour some perfect rainbow-colored shots, you know it was worth it; -And you're the star of your next party or gathering.

The trick is to use liquids with different densities. That enables you to layer them inside your cocktail shaker without them mixing. Similar to adding a float to a New York Sour, where the red wine sits on top of the Whiskey Sour cocktail

While pouring the shots, the liquids blend and form a transition of colors. If done right, the result is a perfect rainbow-colored line of glasses. 

The alcohol content of the resulting shooters can vary widely and depends on the ratio of the two alcoholic elements: Vodka and Blue Curaçao. The blue shots, made of only Blue Curacao, have a comparably high alcohol content. Red-colored ones are purely Grenadine and more or less alcohol-free.

How do they taste?

Rainbow Shots don't taste good. That's not the intention. They're not undrinkable, and some may even taste alright, but overall the shots are rather sweet and fruity and are certainly not balanced in taste.

For instance, usually, the red ones are overly sweet since it's only Grenadine -Honestly, nothing I would recommend serving on its own. Blue, on the other hand, is pure bitter orange liqueur - blue curacao - which is "okay" but nothing I would usually serve, either.

Our recipe uses Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, Vodka, and Grenadine. You can also use other ingredients to make these shots since many combinations produce similar results.

The baseline is: If you want shooters worth drinking, these colorful drinks are not it. Unfortunately, there's no combination that actually produces enjoyable shots.

What you need

To perform this nifty bartending trick, you need the right tools, ingredients, and equal-sized shot glasses:


You can make those colorful shots with many different ingredients. But since you will need some practice, I advise using a simple setup that demands a small number of affordable elements. 

Our recommendation is to start making your shots with:


You only need basic bartending equipment and glasses to layer the liquids and pour the shots. Here's the list of the tools required:


Related Articles

Subscribe to Cocktail Society!

Receive our latest recipes, reviews, and insights - straight to your inbox.
Subscription Form

2 comments on “How to Make Rainbow Shots - A Step-by-Step Guide”

    1. Hi Naveendhar,
      check out our "Cocktails" section in the main menu. You'll find plenty of cocktail recipes with instructions there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ContactAbout usPrivacy PolicyTermsSitemap
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from

© 2023